Clever Title


Regular readers of My Porch know that I haven’t been able to muster the strength for an actual book review in quite some time. Today’s post about The Takeover by Muriel Spark, will be no exception. So it is time for one of my famous (infamous?) bullet list reviews.

  • Although I quite enjoyed the general setting and narrative style of The Takeover, and looked forward to reading it whenever I could, I can’t really say that I really enjoyed the overall message. Perhaps because I am not sure what the message was.
  • Spark creates an Italy in the loosey goosey 1970s with a cast of expats, Eurotrash, and shifty Italians.
  • There is much in Spark’s writing in which one can delight. I was particularly taken by this passage: They talked of hedges against inflation, as if mathematics could  contain actual air and some row of hawthorn could stop an army of numbers from marching over it.” I mean how poetic is that? I love the image of a lovely hawthorn hedge blocking not just inflation, but numbers themselves.
  • You know how Iris Murdoch in the 1970s had everyone hopping from bed to bed and saying scandalous, cruel things to each other in a very clever ways. In some ways I feel like Spark takes that same kind of ethos to a kind of slapstick extreme.
  • I don’t understand why Maggie gets the brunt of the bad luck in the book. She was really the innocent party in most cases but ended up being treated quite poorly by everyone.
  • I think this would be a fun book to discuss in a book club. It may not be the best book, but it is full of things that would engender great discussion.

And you know I can never resist a character who likes a list, and never more so then when index cards or typewriters are involved:

Later, in Maggie’s room, they counted the coins and made a list. It was Mary’s idea to make a list. She made lists of everything. A good part of her mornings was spent on list-making. She had lists for entertaining and for shopping. She listed her clothes, her expenditure and her correspondence. She kept lists of her books and music and furniture. She wrote them by hand, then typed them later in alphabetical or chronological order according as might be called for. Sometimes she made a card index when the subject was complex, such as the winter season’s dinner parties, whom she had dined with and whom she had asked, what she had worn and when.

5 thoughts on “Clever Title

  1. harriet April 29, 2012 / 11:19 am

    I sometimes think we'd all do better to just bullet point our reviews! This novel is a mystery to me but that's because I haven't read it and had never heard of it before MSRW. So many thanks for being only the second person to review it. And thanks again for the brilliant badge, which I hope you were proud of as it winged its way round and round the world.


  2. Karen K. April 29, 2012 / 8:22 pm

    I adore lists. Sometimes I make up lists of things just so I can cross off the things I've completed/read/visited/whatever. I think it's my way of pretending I'm organized when I'm really not.


  3. Geetanjali April 30, 2012 / 9:34 am

    I think I may borrow from you and do a bullet review myself sometime. This is a good idea!


  4. Travellin' Penguin - Pam May 1, 2012 / 9:02 am

    Loved the bullet points, succinct and quick but enough information to make me curious about the book. Also like people in books who make lists and are very organised. Like the trivial things w/ some characters. Good review, Pam


  5. Thomas at My Porch May 2, 2012 / 1:15 pm

    Harriet: Even though I think the bullet lists are the lazy way out, I must admit, I think I would read more reviews if they were bulleted reviews.

    Karen: The only thing better about making a list is crossing things out. I do the same thing.

    Geetanjali: It is a lot easier to write that is for sure.

    Pam: In this day and age I worry that people don't actually read paragraphs anymore, especially in work email.


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